How to find more happiness in your difficult decisions

Indecision is a decision- and a very bad one at that.

‘I don’t know what to do’

We aren’t sure of ourselves anymore. Our generation pushes its decisions forward. Too often. We procrastinate, telling ourselves we need more information to make the decision. “I’ll do it later” we say, assuring ourselves we need to learn some more when in essence we are really just abstaining from making a choice. The problem with that is, indecision is a decision and the even bigger problem is that it’s a decision in which we give away the little control we have and leave everything to chance. Which is almost always to our detriment. Fun fact: “I won’t participate in this decision,” means I could make this better. But I won’t.

“I need to think it over a bit more, learn a bit more about this before I can make a conclusive decision, let some time pass…” Statements like these have become so common as I have grown up. But I remember that carefree decisiveness of childhood. How easy it was to decide I wanted ice cream and without a thought, ask for a dollar from my Mom. How easily I would run across the street to the ice-cream vendor in the red uniform and buy a chocolate cone. Every choice was simple.

I remember too that satisfaction I would have after having eaten that cone- as though everything was right in the world. The taste of the sugary happiness as it swirled in my mouth and melted on my tongue… I was blissfully happy. And everything was as it should have been.

“Our souls- such beautiful things- really must be made of ice cream.”

As an adult, few things can still give me that satisfaction. Fewer decisions still, are that simple. As children, it took so little to make us very happy, or sad, or angry. We were so sensitive to the things around us. With minimal information and facts, we made our biggest decisions and things generally worked out. Nobody died. We made good decisions- for the most part- with very limited information. You’re still alive- reading this now- so something must have worked. No bombs exploded. No houses burnt down… but as we grew up, we lost that ability to be sure about anything. We lost our intrinsic self confidence and learned to rely on other things. To be worried about the world ending if we choose the wrong shirt to wear in the morning. To be the laughing stock of the entire office if we wear a cheaper suit and use the extra money to invest in a gardening habit. Would that really be so bad? Yes? We learned to rely on our phones, our laptops… mere things outside of us. Things that do not give us any confidence in ourselves. Things that actually diminish it.

Our reliance on technology teaches us precision which often doesn’t yield marginally different results from those choices made without all the big data of IBM Watson or the intuition of Siri. And yes. Siri knows her weather but would we die if we were caught in a light drizzle without an umbrella? I am convinced that the experience of getting wet in the rain would in many ways teach us how to be alive: the unexpectedness of life. It’s serendipity. It’s brevity. It’s beauty.

“The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

It is far better to make a choice, be wrong and learn than to do nothing, still be wrong, and learn nothing. To do nothing and still fail. Mistakes where we learn nothing are really the only kind of mistakes. The very worst kind. The others are lessons because we can grow from them. The former are lazy mistakes that perpetuate themselves. They hide their true causes and make us distrust ourselves and our own judgment more. We are worried about looking wrong, and appearing bad so much that we ultimately end up wrong anyway. We think about a problem so much and yet do nothing about it when we really should be doing something. Anything at all- because the only way to truly learn, is to do. Like we did when we were children. Like we still want to do. We must try, and learn, while doing, since experience teaches us things theory never can. That is the one thing children know that we do not. That we can get away with anything. That no matter how much we mess up today, tomorrow will still come and we can start again. That our choices shouldn’t be made up of fear of failure.

Doing things for ourselves- and failing or succeeding- teaches us something. In either case, we learn confidence in ourselves. We learn the world doesn’t end because we leave an email till the morning. No mistake we make will end the world. Unless you’re President Donald Trump- and most of us aren’t. Life always goes on. Whether we succeed or we fail- we learn. We learn a way to do a thing, or perhaps a way not to do it. We learn confidence because in either case, life goes on and we are happy again.

How? How can you be happier with your decisions? Make them quickly- with the minimum information you need! Act on them. Make your choices with the minimum required information! You will never have enough of it. Everything comes out the wash no matter what we do. Wrong or right. So do it, and start learning forward.